I’m fascinated by the small details of nature:
The way the fronds of a feather lock into place – a technique that we crudely imitate in the production of zips.
The fragile beauty of a leaf skeleton after the body has fallen away.
It’s like the complex criss-cross of lines on my youngest daughter’s hand. A palmist would have field day with Laura’s reading.
The freshly fallen fruit of the horse-chestnut tree – the spiky outer layer, the whorled pattern on the conker as it vacates its soft, fleshy womb.
Tiny green shoots emerging from the ground, illustrating the complexity of life and the miracle of survival.
When it snows, I hold my hand out and watch the soft flakes melt, although it leaves me with a fleeting feeling of sadness, like when icicles drip away to nothing.
I watch bees collecting pollen, butterflies enjoying a midsummer dance, ants pushing clods of food toward their nest, flowers breaking out of their buds, the varying species of seaweed on the seashore, seashells, and even the smallest chunks of worn-away glass and driftwood.
I am riveted by giant forces of nature, too:
The shapes and colours in the sky, at sunrise, sunset, noon and night. Each season and every mood of weather brings its own interest.
Storms excite and revitalise me. I like to be outside, with the rain pelting down, and the lightening throwing brief, dramatic images across the landscape.
Wild seas draw my attention; the sight of waves as they break, splash and crash, the music in the sound the ocean makes.
But trees are the most fascinating of all; those gentle plants with their beauty and variety, the abundance of flora and fauna they harmoniously support and live alongside, while they help to hold the planet together, clean the air and make it safe for us to breathe.
Finally, I used to get a kick out of casually observing the clumsy art of adolescent flirtation, amused by how subtle they considered themselves. For example:
A small group of girls encounters a small clutch of boys. Without warning, the girls crank their voices up a couple of notches. The boys ignore them, so the girls get louder. They say things like.
“Oh no! It’s them. I hope they haven’t seen us.”
“I don’t think so. We’d better get out of here before they do.”
If that doesn’t work, they switch to high-pitched, giggly, theatrical chatter about make-up, or they might bitch about the latest victim of spots or bad hair. Eventually the boys notice them. There’s a flicker of interest. Time to repeat “Oh no! I hope they haven’t seen us”, et al, and flounce off, weaving around a bit so that it’s easier for the boys to catch them up. Half-an-hour later, they all reappear as a single group. The girls are insulting the boys. The boys are lapping it up, although their carefully practised lazy gait is distracting them somewhat. The girls are flapping their arms about, energetically twisting and turning.
It’s all changed. The progressively smutty lure of time has stolen their innocence. I prefer to close my ears to the obscenity. I’ve heard eleven year old girls claiming to have been party to sexual experiments that I have never dabbled in, and wouldn’t wish to.
Trees are sticklers for tradition. Unlike young teens, they are always discreet.
Written for Calen’s Sandbox Challenge, Exercise 10.
©Jane Paterson Basil